Al Carsons took off his shirt while Doc Martin read an official letter Tony sent to explain the situation. He placed the letter on top of Al’s folder and placed both folder and letter on the examing room table. Next he reached into his pocket and pulled out some Post-It notes.
“What are those, Doc?”
Doc Martin patted the examining room table. “Up.”
Al sat on the table. Doc Martin read the Post-It notes, nodding at each as he shuffled them, then put the bunch of them in the sink. “You smoke?”
“You know I don’t.”
He went to his office and came back with a small box of wooden matches, lit one and held it to the Post-It notes.
“You would like to test for a Class 5 HazMat TT license. I am going to examine you to make sure there is nothing to suggest you shouldn’t test for that license, but which would not stop you from maintaining your Class 4 Construction Vehicle license. Do you understand what I told you?”
Al smiled. He and the Doc went way back. On his first visit, Al was a strapping, blonde haired, cowlicked buck fresh out of high school who’d just started working for the county and, in the middle of his union physical, confessed he’d just met a girl and wasn’t she pretty? Al remembered the Doc talking to him, confirming and denying things Al had heard about but never experienced, things about being “safe”.
Doc had been a tall, lean, man about fifteen years older than Al. Tall and lean and wiser than anybody Al ever knew.
Now Al had gotten a gut and what hair he had he cut close. Still thin but now not as tall, Doc seemed more like a pussywillow stick bent with the weight of the silvery puff on top. The Doc seemed to be getting thinner and more hunched these days.
“Why, sure, Doc, I understand, but — ”
“Good.” Doc reached into a drawer and came back with a reflex hammer. He whacked Al square on the forehead hard enough to open the big man’s eyes.
“This test confirms you should not test for the Class 5 HazMat TT license.” Doc Martin raised the reflex hammer again.
“Doc!” Al lifted his arms and turned his face away.
“That’s what you should have done the first time.” He made a note on the letter then put it inside Al’s folder. “Now, what’s Tony talking about?”
Al kept his eyes on the hammer still in the Doc’s hand. “You talking about my sleeping in the truck cabs?”
“Are you just a damned fool or do you think there’s a sane reason for that?” Al hesitated and the Doc raised the hammer again. “You’re too damn old to have the cat get your tongue so tell me what the hell’s going on, Albert Carsons.”
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